I can identify exactly one time I have been legitimately happy in the past few weeks since the election, and it was the day I first listened to Zoovier, Fetty Wap’s new mixtape. Sinking into the glossy comfort of Fetty’s melancholy warble and untethered come-ons was just the kind of familiarity I wanted, and he wasn’t even reinventing his formula, doing driving music in minor keys. There’s a warmth to him that temporarily gave me back my equilibrium.
In the video for “Make You Feel Good,” a song he released back in August, Fetty continues his through-line of what can now be considered escapist bonhomie, duetting with an exceptionally beautiful sidekick and very seriously wondering if she’s doing okay in general—sexually but emotionally too, while cooing that he hated the way her last man treated her:
He tried to confine her
Ain’t let her come outside
And that’s why I keep her shining, yeah
She love how I make her feel inside
Fetty, the consummate romantic, sets this scene against a backdrop that is alternately the green-screen for junior high school photos from the mid-’90s, and Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room, a mirrored refractive space that represents the perpetualness of light and the perpetualness of Fetty’s love. Within this, compounds his efforts to make the subject of this song more comfortable, giving her a velvet-tongued speech (and rubdown) and a space that’s just confined enough for the feeling of safety. Her diamonds fracture light, too, a symbol of their foreverness, or maybe a reminder that forever is another kind of constriction, and there’s nothing more important than that right now.
There have been a few of half-baked, ill-informed, ahistorical, soft and poorly constructed thinkpieces about how an agitated underground thrives artistically in times of political strife, written by people who are either shortsighted or seem not to have much to lose, or both. (We’ll certainly have many more of these takes to look forward to, no doubt.) The Reagan era has been invoked, as has the George W. Bush era, by people who really don’t seem to remember how intentionally vapid electroclash, to cite one example, actually was. This overgeneralized notion inherently posits that political art is somehow the antithesis of pop art, as though it’s not part of the same continuum, and that we should somehow value political art more simply because it’s political, even and most especially when it’s bad. (And taking the 20 or so years into consideration, I’d venture to estimate that we’ve had a lot more shitty political music than shitty non-political music.) To cite electroclash again, sometimes you just want to escape. And sometimes escapism is a kind of politics, too.